Four-stroke engine with glass cylinder is a 2400 RPM piece of art

We know a lot about toggling bits in a register, but only a bit about how engines work. This one inspires us to throw ourselves into the field with reckless abandon. [Huib Visser] built this glass cylinder four-stroke engine and he took great care to make it beautiful. We don’t need our projects to be polished and gleaming, but we have to admit that this the opposite of what we see when popping the hood on our 12-year-old rust bucket out front.

You can’t see it in this image, but just on the other side of the fly-wheel is a smaller wheel with a cord wrapped around it that acts as the pull start. This gets the toothed timing belt going along with the cylinder. As part of the demo video we get a good look at how the rotary intake and exhaust valves work. [Huib] also took the time to demonstrate how the rare earth magnets and hall effect sensor reed switch synchronize the ignition system.

You won’t want to miss the end of the video which show it in action as It burns Coleman fuel (white gas) and is lubricated with WD-40. This is jaw dropping and it works like a charm, but still not that far removed from the concepts seen in [Lou’s] hardware store engine project.

UPDATE: Here’s write up this engine (translated) [Thanks ChalkBored]

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Building an internal combustion engine from hardware store parts

[MacGyver] [Lou Wozniak] is on a mission to build an internal combustion engine using only hardware store parts. What you see above is his third attempt at it. Depending on your hardware store this may have ventured outside of what they sell because [Lou] switched over to using gasoline. But the first two attempts were powered by a propane torch fuel canister.

Unfortunately it still isn’t running. But the demo below makes us think that he’s really close. Timing is always touchy and that seems to be what is causing the problems. He makes use of a lot of plumbing fixtures. At the right you can see the parts (including a peanut butter jar) which make his carburetor with a valve pointing straight up as the choke. The fuel and air mixture moves down through the pipe to the cylinder and valve assembly where it is ignited by the black grill igniter module. His custom cut plywood gear moves with the fly-wheel. It triggers his improvised spark plug by using a bit of wire to pull on the leaf switch.

We feel like he’s so close to getting this up and running. If you have any advice on where he might be going wrong [Lou] welcomes your input.

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1,200 hours of work results in the smallest v12 engine

[José Manuel Hermo Barreiro] has spent many many hours crafting these tiny engines from hand. Every single piece is custom made specifically for the engine it is going onto. He has created aircraft engines, car engines, and marine engines that all actually run and are the smallest of their kind in the world.

At one point in this video he stands in a room with several engines lined up, all running smoothly and considers that there are possibly over 15,000 hours of work right there in front of him.

Here’s a video specifically about the 12 cylinder construction.

[Thanks Staskazz]


Second grade science project: a steam engine


If you’re looking for a way to let the kids get hand-ons with science this is a perfect example of how to do it. [Erich] wanted to help out with his 7-year-old’s science project. They decided to build a working model of a steam engine but couldn’t find online instructions appropriate for the age group. So the two of them not only pulled off the build, but then they wrote a guide for others to follow. The thing about it is, you really have to understand a concept to teach it to someone else. So we think the write-up is equally important to having actually done the experiment.

Steam can scald you if you’re not careful. But you don’t really need steam to explore the concepts of a steam engine. The main reason to use steam is that it’s a fairly rudimentary way to build pressure which can be converted to motion. For this demonstration the blue balloon provides that pressure. It’s feeding a reservoir that connects to the valve built out of straws. A plastic piston inside pushes against the crank shaft, spinning the cardboard wheel on the left. When the piston travels past the valve opening it releases the air pressure until the machine makes a revolution and is in place for the next push. This is well demonstrated in the clip after the break.

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High powered rocket engines made from PVC pipe


For as much as we enjoy rockets, explosives, and other dangerous things, we haven’t said a word about the works of [Richard Nakka]. He’s the original hacker rocketeer with thousands of words dedicated to the craft of making things move straight up really fast. One of his more interesting builds is his series on building rocket engines out of PVC pipe written in conjunction with [Chuck Knight].

For the propellent grains, the PVC rocket didn’t use the usual potassium nitrate and sugar mixture of so many homebrew solid rockets. Instead, it uses Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener. While melting and casting the Sorbitol-based propellant grains is much easier than a sugar-based concoction,  the Sorbitol had much less thrust than a typical sugar rocket, making it the perfect candidate for a PVC engine.

For those of you wondering about the strength of a PVC engine casing, [Richard] does say making larger rocket engines out of 2 or 3-inch PVC may not make much sense due to the increased chamber pressures. There is a fairly clever reinforcement method for these PVC rockets (PDF warning) that involves using PVC couplers, but the experiments into the strength of these casings have yet to undertaken.

Thanks [Caley] for sending this one in.

Land speed baby carriage record set at 53 mpg


Let’s face it, you’ll never break the motorcycle land speed record without a stellar engineering team and some serious corporate sponsorship. But this build proves that individuals can still set other speed records. [Colin Furze] rode his motorized baby carriage over the 53 mile per hour mark to set a the world’s record. We were surprised to learn it only took him about one month and $750 to build the infant death machine.

The design appears to take a page from the commercial lawnmower industry. We say that because the driver rides along on a little tow dolly behind the carriage itself. All of the controls are mounted within easy reach of the T-bar steering mechanism. There are a couple of rockers for his thumbs which actuate the gas and brakes. Red push buttons just below the handlebars are used for up and down shifting with a third button used as a kill switch. The only thing missing from the write up is video footage of the actual 53mph run. We guess you’ll just have to take his word for it.

[via Dvice]

Retrotechtacular: Fluid Coupling


We realize the transmission fluid of an automobile’s automatic transmission is used to transfer the power from the engine to the drive shaft. But after watching this Department of Defense video from 1954 we now have a full understanding of the principles involved in fluid coupling. Like us, you probably have seen a diagram of a transmission which shows the fan-like blades that are affected by the moving fluid. But it’s worth watching the 12-minute clip after the break to understand how that liquid is moving and why that matters so much in the design. The motion of the rotors, along with the design of the enclosure, causes the fluid to move in a continual corkscrew —  the shape of slinky whose ends have been attached to each other. This type of illustration leads to an intuitive understanding of how it’s possible to facilitate an efficient power transfer using a liquid.

Check out some of the comments left in the Reddit thread regarding this film. We agree with [Runxctry]; there’s something about the format of the presentation that makes these informative and engaging to an almost addictive level. But maybe it’s just the engineering geek deep inside that’s cause these feelings?

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